General Information About Ovarian Cancer
Key Points for This Section
The ovaries are a pair of organs in the female reproductive system. They are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. The ovaries produce eggs and female hormones (chemicals that control the way certain cells or organs function).
- Ovarian Cancer Prevention
- Genetics of Breast and Ovarian Cancer
- Ovarian Epithelial Cancer Treatment
- Ovarian Germ Cell Tumors Treatment
- Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors Treatment
Ovarian cancer is also the leading cause of death from cancer of the female reproductive system. Since 1992, the number of new cases of ovarian cancer has gone down slightly. The number of deaths from ovarian cancer has slightly decreased since 2002.
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for ovarian cancer include the following:
- Being older.
- Having a family history of ovarian cancer.
- Taking hormone replacement therapy after menopause.
- Using fertility drugs.
- Being taller than 5 feet 8 inches.
- Being obese.
- Having increased levels of CA 125.
- Having certain hereditary conditions, such as hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), also called Lynch Syndrome.
- Having certain changes in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene that are inherited (passed from the parent to the child).
Certain factors may decrease a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women who have taken oral contraceptives ("the pill"), given birth, breast -fed, or had a tubal ligation or hysterectomy have a lower than average risk of developing ovarian cancer. Prophylactic oophorectomy (removal of healthy ovaries) decreases ovarian cancer risk in women who have an altered gene related to breast cancer.